Damp is coming thru the wall of the small chapel in the house; rain water is not being channelled properly in part due to dumped rubbish further up the hill by other neighbours. Some people expect the nuns to contribute to the cost of taking larger items down the stairs to dispose of them…It is a bit of a catch-22 as the items are unlikely to be removed by that particular neighbour but equally it is not their rubbish. However, other residents are making a conscious effort to not recklessly dump rubbish (despite the climb down and/or cost of using a porter) and there are numerous graffiti signs that pointedly tell folks to not dump in certain areas/to not behave “like pigs”. In the meantime though, Trini decided that certain repair and protection work needed to be done at the back of the house. The cost of the materials was about BSF 950 (approx 225USD on the official exchange rate) and the cost for the porters to bring it up was also about BSF 900. Materials included sand, stones, bricks etc to cover a small area and build a small wall. It required 7 porters to each carry about 8 heavy loads up the 360 or so steps to the house! (The equation is similar too for the cost of getting the food up to the pre-school and the food budget for the children’s breakfast, lunch and snack ends up being almost double the cost of the actual food alone…)
There was also a visit from EPA (equivalent of Homebase in the UK and The Home Depot in USA) to La Moran today; EPA provided 50 small home improvement loans in La Moran last year so that people could improve their homes and they came to inspect some of the results today. They were pleased with what they had seen and also impressed with the pre-school, having just ascended the steps so appreciating what it takes to build and maintain in such a location with no road access. When I asked them about the stairs, one of the commments was about the skill required to dodge the considerable amounts of dog-shit everywhere! Even Trini refers to it as something akin to a “crap factory”. There are a lot of dogs around and you do have to keep a close eye on where you are walking; however, still better than having to dodge the all too frequent bullets!
Also paid a visit to one of the cleaners from the school, who has just had an operation. With just two (bed)rooms, she has still taken in the young wife and children of that man that was killed when the tree fell on his house. The school currently has a space that is self-contained house but on the premises of the school; the plan is to make that a day care centre for 0-2 year olds in the near future but building work will have to take place to make it a suitable space. The widow though had requested that she be allowed to live there until such a time as a replacement home is provided by the government or other body…On the one hand, everybody has a great deal of sympathy for her situation (and that of her children); on the other, it is very difficult to accommodate (literally) everybody and there are many tales of woe and vulnerability. In the end, it was decided that the NGO that runs the school will help to find a way to rebuild her old home but that the school premises would not be used as a temporary home.
The cleaner’s son also told us that as he left for work at 6am, he came out of his house to find 3 armed youths pointing pistols in his direction! They were evidently in search of somebody else and left him alone but they made quite an impact first thing in the morning…
On a lighter note, the nuns were telling tales about some of the things the children say. Trini and Angeles are both very slender and about the same height and they both wear habit and veil. Trini has been in this barrio for quite a number of years so when Angeles joined her here, they just called her Trini 2. When the children were at a church gathering where there were many nuns, the children just said “many Trinis”. The thing that made me laugh out loud though was when some children came to the nun’s house and Trini didn’t have her veil on; the children said “Trini, you’ve cut your hair!”